E-commerce and online businesses experts and professionals in the online shopping world expect that more consumers will shop online in different categories, other than groceries and household essentials, assuring that, once started, users will continue to shop online even after the coronavirus lockdown and are unlikely to go back to brick-and-mortar stores.
On one hand, people are concerned about the future of small and medium-size businesses and how they can survive the coronavirus situation. Tweets and posts from concerned users from all over the world talk about how businesses are struggling to survive physically during the corona outspread with governments locking down streets and shops and people panicking or going for social distancing.
Things are becoming worse day after day. Consumers are afraid of using cash money, stores are confined to open during certain hours due to curfew, and managers/owners are forced to lay off a significant number of their staff and personnel. A disaster by all means!
On the other hand, online businesses and online stores are seizing the opportunity and online retailers’ sales have had a huge boost during this rocky economy.
Consumers are shifting all their shopping to e-markets to avoid physical contact and handling cash.
Experts like Stuart Rose, a partner at an investment bank, say that e-commerce is better off nowadays.
They predict that once consumers shift into online buying, they are unlikely to go back after the corona thing declines and life goes back to normal. Conversion rates are tripled in the last few weeks; every possible lead is converting into a buying customer, and is very likely to become a loyal customer from now on.
How E-commerce Stores Had Hit a Home Run during the Crisis
Here are numerous examples for how well e-commerce businesses are doing during the coronavirus outbreak and coronavirus curfew circumstances.
In Kuwait, MasterCard has released a study for consumers’ behavior and online trading operations.
The study confirms that “Online shopping is on the rise in Kuwait” not just for groceries but also for different categories such as books and entertainment items.
In Saudi Arabia, e-markets are gaining double and triple profit margin from e-commerce and online shopping.
According to the Arab News, “Saudi Arabian retailer BinDawood Holding has seen a 200 percent increase in its online sales since the escalation of the coronavirus crisis.”
For Danube Online (one of the two platforms of BinDawood Holding), their managing director declared that their average order value has raised by 50% and their app installations has topped 400%. On top of that, this increase in the online demand has created vacant jobs and positions, an added value that could save families and make it up for suffering staff who have been laid off recently.
According to the Gulf News, UAE is also in the race with discounts and offers on almost everything, even on in-season items: “ e-commerce sites woo shoppers to spend on apparel, gadgets, even for in-season items. ” Online Shopping portals in the UAE are doing their best to lure users into buying more than their daily essentials: tech gadgets, apparel, accessories, and the like.
In Egypt, things are very much the same. The Egyptian people is following the government’s rules and is applying social distancing strictly. That led to an increase in the e-commerce business sector and conversion rates in Egypt are very high, with titan competitors sharing the Egyptian market: Jumia, Amazon (formerly Souq), Noon, and others. Governments have been preparing for this shift in the buying behavior for years.
Egyptian ministers have stated that reformation and advancements are taking place in telecommunication services, infrastructure, and logistics sector.
Why Small Businesses E-commerce Are Dressed for Success?
There is one problem though that’s facing big e-commerce sites and emarket stores, like Amazon for example, that, in my opinion, could be used as a strength point to small online businesses and physical stores.
That problem is sourcing supplies. Given the widespread factory closings in many parts in the world, online retailers are running out of supplies. Shops and stores in the streets/malls already have their own stock and supply in their storage houses.
Converting to online selling now would turn losses into profit and failures into success.
As we mentioned earlier, according to global statistics, conversion rates are going up and consumers’ behaviors are shifting towards online purchase in all categories (from household daily needs to fashion and gaming products). Diving into the online world today, through building your website and mobile application, is the right investment in the exact timing.
You Have Got to Be in It to Win It
One question might arise: Do small e-retailers have a chance in front of the big fishes in the e-commerce market?
I say definitely YES!
A big fat yes to the idea that small e-retailers, new e-commerce sites, and physical shops recently shifting into the e-market will certainly be able to compete and win their share in the market. That’s, I believe, for the following reasons.
1. Many tweets and posts are calling for supporting small businesses due to the struggle they are in trying to make their lives during the corona situation and limited working hours (because of the curfew).
3. Many brands (that only have brick and mortar stores) already have established a big name in the market and built confidence with their loyal customers. Those customers will absolutely support their favorite brand; actually, they are going to be waiting for it to have an online presence so that they start placing orders from the convenience, and safety, of their homes. In other words, a previously guaranteed conversion rate.
4. Criticism is harshly facing Amazon on its pricing for items specially during the current crisis. As stated in The Verge, “US Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) is harshly criticizing what he sees as Amazon’s inconsistent response to ongoing coronavirus-related price gouging on the e-commerce company’s third-party Marketplace platform.” Pricing
transparency is an extremely important factor for online businesses to consider and stick to.
the world is suffering from a global crisis that has impacted all businesses on so many levels. Shops and malls are locked down, consumers are confused, cash is losing against credit and online payment, and governments are taking all possible measures to encourage social distancing during (and after) the coronavirus situation. People are laid off, salaries are cut down, and everyone is suffering in a way or another.
Online shopping is the obvious answer to all these problems. Online businesses have survived and are making a huge success during such hard times and unsteady economy.
Experts confirm that e-commerce and emarket shopping will continue to be consumers’ behavior even after the crisis is over.
Of course people will go shopping again, but online shopping will definitely take traditional shopping’s place, and emarkets will certainly replace brick and mortar shops and stores as people’s minds will always have this idea planted deep inside of “no one knows what might happen” or “I’d better be safe, who knows.” Governments are strongly encouraging online shopping and advocate e-commerce with setting up solid infrastructure and easing the process for companies and business owners.
As said, better late than never!
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